SPARKS, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) - For one whole century Tomas Pagalilauan has been lighting up the room with his smile and what family and friends call his “happy disposition.”
The World War II veteran celebrated his 100th birthday with an intimate gathering in Sparks.
The Filipino family was sure to include traditional favorites like Letchon (roasted pig), birthday cake, and a room full of love.
"Oh I'm very happy, because the grandkids, the daughter from Las Vegas, to this birthday," his wife Mely Pagalilauan says.
Pagalilauan was a Filipino soldier and fought against the Japanese during WWII.
During the war Pagalilauan was captured by the Japanse and became a prisoner of war.
"The survival rate was pretty low. For the Filipino’s it was even lower than the American POWs," Pagalilaun’s longtime physician from the Reno Veteran’s Hospital Dr. Philip Davis says.
Pagalilauan was a POW for about a year when he was freed by the Americans.
The experience is one his whole family will never forget, but according to his eldest daughter Luzviminda de la Cruz it taught them all a lesson they say their father lived by.
"We survive in spite of the hard times," de la Cruz says.
She says one of her father’s proudest moments was when he became a United States citizen in the early nineties.
Now, all Tomas battles is arthritis, some poor hearing and vision, but at his birthday party he proved his vision is still dependable as he read a birthday card from Dr. Davis out loud to the crowd.
Dr. Davis says Pagalilauan’s health is quite good and it’s remarkable how much he can get around.
Tomas and his wife Mely travel to the Philippines as often as possible.
De la Cruz attributes her father’s good health and long life to his healthy eating.